Metro’s Problems Persist in Spite of Pontiff’s Presence

WMATA: Metro Opens Wallets

(Washington, DC — September 23, 2015) – On the eve of Pope Francis’ visit, officials at Metro wanted to show off their mass transit system. They wanted to show off their new multi-billion dollar Silver Line. They wanted to show that the transit system could run smoothly in spite of an onslaught of papal well-wishers.

What they got instead was business as usual.

On Tuesday at 6:00pm, a Green Line train lost power inside a tunnel – about 100 feet from the Georgia Avenue-Petworth station’s platform – stranding 250 passengers. Declining to self-evacuate, the passengers were eventually freed by emergency personnel. Power was not restored until 11:00pm.

The episode is just the latest chapter in the “As the Metro Overturns” soap opera. One year ago tomorrow, Metro General Manager Richard Sarles announced his intention to retire at the end of December 2014. Almost 10 months later, the Metro Board has yet to select someone to take Sarles’ place.

“Who would want the job?” asked a mass transit consultant, speaking on condition of anonymity. “There was pandemonium while Sarles was here. There’s been pandemonium since he left. Between ‘electrical arcing events’ and killing passengers, coupled with rising fares and system breakdowns and failures, it’s hard to see how Metro climbs out of the hole they’ve dug for themselves – or to find someone to hand the shovel.”

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Things are so bad that someone started a petition on Change.org asking the pope to bless the dysfunctional transit system:

Dear Pope Francis,

Our Metro system is having some troubles. All of DC would be grateful if you could find the time to bless it during your upcoming stay. Maybe a Papal Blessing is just what it needs.

A papal spokesman declined the request.

“His Holiness can do many things,” said the spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. “He can cure many ills. He can even perform a miracle once in a while. But make Metro a functional, useful mass-transit system? Please! Even God sometimes answers ‘no’ to prayers because He knows what’s reasonable and what’s just preposterous and unthinkable.”

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